E.T. The Extra Terrestrial: 30th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray Review)

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Academy Award-winning director Steven Spielberg’s magical adventure, celebrates its 30th Anniversary with its first-ever release on Blu-ray.   E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial remains the fourth most successful movie of all-time in the United States.  Nominated for nine Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Writing and Best Screenplay, the film took home four statuettes for Best Visual Effects, Best Sound Effects Editing, Best Sound and Best Music for John Williams’ (Jaws) memorable score. The unforgettable cast includes the adorable Drew Barrymore (He’s Just Not That Into You, Charlie’s Angels), Henry Thomas (Dear John, Legends of the Fall), Dee Wallace (10, “Sons and Daughters”) and Peter Coyote (“Law & Order: LA,” Jagged Edge).  Featuring an all-new, digitally remastered picture that delivers six times the resolution of DVD, as well as all-new 7.1 surround sound, this Blu-ray Combo Pack includes the 1982 theatrical movie, an all-new interview with director Steven Spielberg, and “The E.T. Journals” featuring never-before-seen footage from the set of the film.  The Blu-ray Combo Pack also includes UltraViolet, a DVD and a Digital Copy of the film, offering fans a chance to relive the mystery, laughter and wonder of the iconic movie anytime, anywhere on the platform of their choice.



I think at this point, just about every person on this planet has seen or at least is aware of E.T. The Extra Terrestrial and loves it including myself.  That wasn’t always the case for me as I clearly remember being turned off by the poster of the two fingers (one human and one alien) about to touch in a gesture of peace and friendship and thought it looked lame.  I was all about Rocky III and Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan that summer and I had no interest in seeing what seemed to be a wussy movie.  So, I was dragged kicking and screaming to see E.T. and by the time the movie was over, I was in tears along with everyone else in the audience.  That feeling of heartbreak combined with joy was a new movie experience for me and I couldn’t believe how much the film affected everyone else around me.  I saw it several more times after that and every time, it ended with the same result which really opened my eyes to just how influential and powerful a film can be.

The movie opens in a mysterious fashion as we see a group of aliens collecting samples from the forest.  We never see them very clearly thanks to the fog and how Spielberg directed it but their visit is brief because some humans have detected their arrival.  Led by a man only listed as “Keys” (Peter Coyote), the humans fan out and start searching for the aliens.  One curious alien (later known as “E.T.” who had journeyed far from his companions to look out at the city below and finds himself in the path of the search party.  He runs back to his ship but his panicky run alerts the humans that he’s nearby and the start to chase him.  With the humans closing in on their location, the aliens on the ship have no choice but to abandon their last member to make their escape.  The ship takes off and E.T. is left alone on an alien world to him and with people actively searching for him.

Not too far away from the forest, in a traditional Amblin suburban neighborhood where Elliott (Henry Thomas), his brother Michael (Robert MacNaughton), his sister Gertie (Drew Barrymore), and their mother Mary (Dee Wallace) live.  The childrens’ father has moved out fairly recently and none of them are doing very well coping with their new dynamic.  Other than perhaps the heartbroken Mary, the one who has taken the break up the hardest is Elliott, who lacks friends of his own and desperately tries to ingratiate himself in with his brother and his friends.  His efforts are largely in vain as the boys mock him and make him do tasks in an attempt to win their favor.  During one of his tasks of going out to meet the pizza delivery man, Elliott hears a sound in the backyard and goes to investigate it and discovers E.T. which scares the bejesus out of both of them.  Of course, no one believes his claims of seeing a goblin in the backyard, so Elliot tries to lure the alien back with a trail of Reese’s Pieces.  The plan works and once Elliott and E.T. get over their mutual fear of each other, Elliot feels a kinship with the alien and smuggles him into his room.

From that point on, Elliott and E.T. grow closer and closer and they start sharing the same thoughts, feelings, with anything that happens to one of them affects the other.  One by one, Elliott’s family learns about E.T.  as does the government eventually.  When they do move in to capture E.T. both Elliot and E.T. are both dying thanks to their shared bond.  Without giving the ending away, the alienated Elliott and the actual alien are embraced by not only Elliott’s fractured family but also the other kids in the neighborhood who take up E.T.’s cause too.  The film’s climax is heartbreaking but also inspirational and for a movie about an alien it all feels very real and emotional.  If you can watch the end of this movie and feel nothing then I’m pretty sure that there’s something wrong with you and you may be a robot.  I can’t remember another movie that was as much an emotional roller-coaster as this one.

Perhaps, it’s because the movie came from director Steven Spielberg’s own emotional past as he came from a broken home that was torn apart by divorce.  He combined that story with his other idea of an alien being accidentally left behind to become something of an interstellar foreign exchange student and the end result was another masterpiece.  Of course, a huge part of the movie’s success was also due to his good friend and collaborator composer John Williams.  After scoring Jaws, two of the Star Wars movies, and Raiders of the Lost Ark, you’d think that Williams genius had been completely tapped out but that wasn’t the case at all as E.T. has one of the finest and moving scores ever written.  As much as I love Williams’ work with George Lucas which is simply spectacular, there’s something even more special between Spielberg and Williams.  When you combine the world’s greatest director with the world’s greatest composer, you get magic and time and time again, the two of them provide just that with both the visuals and the aural working in perfect tandem.  There’s a reason that this movie was the number one movie worldwide for ten years and if you haven’t seen it yet, you should make a point to do so as soon as possible.


Much like the recent Blu-ray release of Jaws, this film has has never looked better than it does now.  Universal has done another incredible restoration with E.T. which should please fans of the movie.  Colors are accurate and distinct with the varying hues faithfully represented.  Flesh tones are natural and realistic and consistent throughout the movie, while the black levels also fairly strong and solid.  The detail in this far surpasses the previous home releases and you will be amazed at home much more you can see in the picture.  I didn’t notice any serious blemishes or digital defects in this picture but the added sharpness does reveal the limitations of decades old special effects but that’s not an issue with the transfer itself.  And honestly, I wouldn’t have even worried about that issue if I wasn’t responsible for critiquing the video for this review.


E.T.’s DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix is even better than the video quality and I loved every second of it.  As a huge fan of John Williams’ score for the film, his music has never sounded better than it does on this Blu-ray.  E.T.’s soaring score is the best part of this lossless mix and it’s reason enough to upgrade to Blu-ray.  The film’s dialogue is crystal clear and the rear speakers do an admirable job of immersing the viewer in the middle of many ambient effects and the film’s moody atmosphere.  Directionality is also excellent when called for and especially good during the opening of the movie with the aliens moving around in the forest before being chased away.  For a thirty year old film, this mix is stupendous and I don’t think it could really get any better than this.


I love extras and I especially look forward to them for Steven Spielberg’s movies because I know he won’t include a director’s commentary.  Without that, I expect him to include a lot of behind the scenes footage in exchange and lucky for us he did with the fantastic “E.T. Journals” which are the highlight of the set for me.  These extras are in standard definition with the exception of first three extras listed below.

  • Steven Spielberg & E.T. – A short look at how E.T. came together and transformed from a darker concept called Night Skies and re-imagined into a family/science fiction movie.  Spielberg talks about how his life influenced the story and how screenwriter Melissa Mathison took over the script after he talked to her about it while he was filming Raiders of the Lost Ark with her then husband Harrison Ford.  Spielberg also talks about the reaction to the film and what it means to him.
  • The E.T. Journals – At almost an hour long, this extra is the highlight of these special features.  The entire running time is made up of behind the scenes footage and we get to see Spielberg directing the kids and their interaction which is incredible.  There’s also on set interviews with the cast and crew which show their dedication in doing the best job they can because all of them believed in the movie.  For me, this extra is worth getting this Blu-ray alone.
  • Deleted Scenes – A brief look at some deleted scenes that include E.T. playing in the bathtub and more Halloween footage.  I wouldn’t have minded both of them staying in the movie but I also don’t miss them either. I would have loved to have had the Harrison Ford footage included where he was the school administrator  who disciplines Elliott for freeing the frogs.
  • A Look Back – Made for the last DVD release, this is a great retrospective documentary that lasts almost forty minutes and it’s great except for the fact that it’s not in high definition.
  • The Evolution and Creation of E.T. – Another ported over extra, this featurette covers a lot of the same ground as the previous ones but it’s still worth watching.
  • The E.T. Reunion – I really liked seeing Steven Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy, Henry Thomas, Robert MacNaughton, Drew Barrymore, Dee Wallace, and Peter Coyote get back together to reminisce about making the movie.  They share anecdotes about filming the movie and talk about the impact the movie had on audiences and what it meant to them.  Thomas also complains about how he couldn’t go outside for a year after it came out without being recognized.
  • The 20th Anniversary Premiere – One of the very cool extras from the DVD has been added here too as we get to see the film’s composer John Williams and an entire orchestra perform the film’s score for the 20th Anniversary premiere for a live audience that includes much of the cast and crew.  Don’t get too excited though because this isn’t the full length effort as it’s an eighteen minute highlight reel that concludes with Spielberg and the cast taking a bow with Williams.  I wish they had included the whole thing!
  • The Music of E.T. – A talk with maestro John Williams about his score for the film.  The man is a genius.
  • Designs, Photographs and Marketing – Six image galleries are included for those that want to see this kind of material.
  • Special Olympics TV Spot
  • Theatrical Trailer


E.T. is one of the greatest movies ever made and this Blu-ray offers the best way to see this film.  The video and audio quality are exceptional and the extras are also very very good.  I really don’t think there are too many people left in the world that haven’t seen this film by now, but if you are one of them then you need to pick up this movie and experience it for yourself.  This is Steven Spielberg’s most personal film and it’s got an incredible cast and some great themes as well.  Now that it’s on Blu-ray there’s no reason that this movie shouldn’t be in every person’s collection!

Order your copy today!


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